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McDonald's Hopes Dropping Gas Prices Will Fuel Burger Sales

If not, the fast-food giant might be struggling even more than expected.

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Scott Olson/Getty Images News

According to economists, dropping gas and oil prices bolsters employment numbers in a major way, and fast-food chains are hoping they'll benefit, as well. During a quarterly earnings call earlier this week, Sonic Drive-In's CEO explicitly credited falling gas prices for the chain's growing sales numbers, saying: "There's no doubt in the last six months the price of fuel has been a big contributor." The same day, stocks for fast-food brands and fast-casual chains performed well on Wall Street, with CNBC reporting Cheesecake Factory and Jack In the Box experiencing big gains.

But as Crain's Chicago Business points out, the still-slumping McDonald's has not seen any benefits from dropping gas prices — it suffered a 4.6 percent sales drop this past November, a time when other chains were reporting gains. According to Crain's analysis: "If the trend continues in December, it will suggest McDonald's isn't getting much of the money consumers are saving on gas. That would raise the troubling possibility that another important customer group is drifting away."

In November, McDonald's blamed the sales drop on "strong competitive activity," and has recently overhauled its public branding in an effort to win back consumers. Will kale-shaming be enough to lure in those gas-saving dollars?

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